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Katia Savrami
Dance narrates

A pioneering one-day conference on dance and  Narrativity at the University of Patras

A one-day conference entitled “Dance and Narrativity” was organized with great success on May 27th, 2009 by dance theorist Katia Savrami, lecturer of Theory and History of dance, Department of Theatre Studies, at the University of Patras and member of the Board of our Association.

This international meeting of major representatives of dance, choreographers, choreologists, as well as theorists, was realized thanks to a sponsorship by the Onassis Foundation.
The aim of the one-day conference was to present the polymorphic nature of dance narrativity through theoretical lectures supported by visual representation, live or filmed. The discussion concerning narrativity lies at the forefront of the research in the field of theoretical studies and offers fertile ground for dialogue and in depth analysis in various fields of knowledge.

“In accordance with the contemporary theory of narrativity, the term narrativity in dance has a twofold meaning”, writes Katia Savrami in the conference program. “It is used in order to refer to the total characteristics that distinguish a choreography of a narrative type from a non-narrative one; the term also implies the degree at which a choreography is realized as narration. In the first case, emphasis is placed on independent aspects and techniques, which are more or less strongly presented and which grant the choreography a narrative character. In the second case, the emphasis is shifted from the parts to the whole: what is important is the degree at which the choreography itself projects these characteristics and allows the spectator to grasp its inlaid narrativity”.

In the conference participated with interesting and original presentations: Pete Brooks, professor at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design of London, Athena Vahla, member of the Scholars’ Association and a well-known choreographer who lives and works in London and Athens, Vasso Barboussi, assistant professor at the University of the Peloponnese, Deborah Jowitt, professor at Tisch School of Arts,  New York University and writer at the Village Voice, the Puerto Rican theorist and choreographer Ana Sanchez-Colberg, who teaches in major European universities, the organizer Katia Savrami, the prominent Swedish choreographer, writer and theorist Efva Lilja,  dean of University Dance College of Stockholm, and the prominent ancient drama choreographer Ersi Pitta.

The students presented a dance performance entitled Afternoon and still here, composed specifically for the space available at the Univeristy and choreographed with great sensitivity by Mariza Vinieratou, choreography teacher at the State School of Dance.

The conference was the first scientific meeting on dance, a field evolving dynamically in our country recently,  at a Greek University, with 250 participants, mostly people involved in dance and performing arts, theoreticians, artists, academics, dance teachers as well as many students.

All participated in a fruitful discussion around important questions which arose from the speakers: In which way does the dancer’s body contribute to the dance narrative? How far does the meaning of the choreography change in the context of specific narrative methods? Does it vary according to the time period and the genre? Being an ungraded  field that should soon find its rightfully outlined position in the Greek Universities, dance has still a lot to give on an aesthetic and cultural level, as well as on a wider theoretical field. The initiative taken by the University of Patras and of the Onassis Foundation is a sign of positive development- progression towards this goal.